A few days ago I wrote about Microsoft’s launch of MSN Mobile Video. It’s a nice service with thousands of fresh, interesting clips from the full-web MSN Video library. Unfortunately when I visited the site with a couple of video capable phones, the Nokia N95-3 and Motorola Z8, I got the message “We currently do not support Video on your device“. From that, I assumed that the site only offered videos in Windows Mobile format and suggested that if Microsoft really wanted to participate in the mobile web revolution they need to support non-proprietary, industry standard video formats like H.263, H.264 and MPEG-4.
It turns out that there are MPEG-4 and H.264 videos on the site. I got a call from MSN Mobile’s Ron Trackey who explained that they are only offering videos to devices that they have tested and verified compatibility with and that my phones haven’t been approved yet. Testing is proceeding rapidly and MSN’s goal is to eventually support 90% of video capable 3G phones world wide.
Ron sent me a list of a few of the supported phones. The list includes the iPhone, Nokia E51, LG Shine, RAZR2 V8 and Sony Ericsson W710i among others. I tested this by impersonating the RAZR2 and E51 with the FireFox User Agent Switcher plugin and videos are available for these phones. They were 176×144 px in size and use the MPEG-4 video and AMR audio codecs. I’m a little disappointed that the E51 doesn’t get 320×240 videos which it supports but 176×144 is better than nothing.
Overall this is very good news, the MSN Mobile video site is one of the better ones in terms of variety and quality of videos and ease of use. There’s timely coverage from NBC and MSNBC News and ABC Sports along with all sorts of entertainment clips and user generated and viral content for sources like StupidVideos.com. The NBC clips include Nighty News items and interviews from Meet the Press. It’s true that most of this content is also available from sites like YouTube Mobile but MSN clips are better organized and more timely. I’m really glad to hear that most phones will be supported and am waiting eagerly to be able to watch MSN mobile videos on my N95, hopefully in full screen 320×240 resolution.